Friday, October 4, 2013

searching for silver, part 2.

{around the campfire, with no idea what was ahead for us}

after stopping for dinner and multiple potty breaks, getting lost, then being pulled over for speeding just outside of city limits (our first-ever warning ticket only! we couldn't believe our luck.)  we pulled into the campsite after dark.  the kids were bursting with excitement, and i found myself joining in as we bundled up in jackets, unpacked the car, and began to set up the tent.

a short while later, we gathered around a big campfire with the other ward members, chatting and roasting marshmallows.  caleb showed up at my side with a cup of hot chocolate in his hands.

"are you doing okay, bud?"  i asked, remembering the last time he drank hot chocolate while he was on the fathers & sons campout with ben just a couple of months ago.  in the middle of the night, he randomly threw up an enormous amount of liquid, covering his entire sleeping bag with a puddle of regurgitated hot chocolate and marshmallows.  it only happened once, so we figured his upset stomach was due to an overdose of sugar.  (throwing up is a common occurrence when caleb has too much many sweets)

"don't worry mom, it's only half a cup," caleb replied confidently.  we talk a lot at home about listening to our bodies and taking care of them and i let go of most of the control so he can feel confident in his decisions--and learn from his own mistakes.

for a couple of hours, things went great. the girls told us they were ready for bed around 9:00, so we set up our sleeping bags and planned on getting the kids to sleep and then joining some of our friends outside of our tents for games.  leah and caleb snuggled into their sleeping bags, laughing and talking for a few minutes before quieting down.  june however, had other plans.  she hadn't had much of a nap that day, and was overly tired and really grouchy.  after an hour she finally lay down beside me on the air mattress.  (yes, i said air mattress.  this is still considered "real camping" in my book.)

the temperature had dropped so much i could see my breath in the air and i put a third pair of flannel pants and another pair of socks on.  i looked across the row of children to find ben already asleep, huddled so far into his sleeping bag all i could see was the top of his forehead.

i settled down and just as i was drifting off to sleep, i heard caleb's voice--in a much higher pitch than normal.

"mom, my stomach hurts.  i think i'm going to throw up!"  his tone was panicky.

i jumped out of my blankets as quickly as i could without disturbing june, and frantically grabbed for the backpack i had stuck several unused garbage bags in its front pocket.  i'm no fool--we've been down this road many times before, and i came prepared.  as one hand was retrieving the garbage bags, the other was smacking ben's sleeping bag by his feet.  he sat up, his eyes squinty and confused.

i loudly whispered, "caleb's gonna barf, get up!" and ben sprang into action.  he helped caleb up while i unzipped the tent for the two of them to walk outside.  i heard caleb begin to retch and knew then, we were in for a long night.  after he had finished, we tried to give him some medicine and only a minute later, he threw that up as well.  even though he had made it in the garbage bags, there was some residual on his shirt and he needed to be changed.  his entire body was trembling from the cold as ben and i worked to quickly switch his clothing.  to warm him up, ben sat down with him in his lap and wrapped a blanket around the both of them.

"i'm so sorry you're sick, buddy," i said softly as i wiped his mouth and nose.  "and i know you're old enough to make your own choices, but i'm just going to go ahead and take the lead with this decision:  you're off of hot chocolate for the next couple of years, okay?"

he nodded with a little smile on his face.

for the next few hours, this is how they sat as caleb continued to vomit.

i was awake the whole time, but laying down across the tent next to june, who continued to stir.  i could tell she was cold, and kept trying to put more layers on her but she would irrationally thrash around and scream when i would try to help her.  the only thing she would let me do was stand and hold her wrapped in a blanket, but would wake back up again if i tried to lay her down her own.  i finally rocked her to sleep, and carefully inched my way to lay back down while still holding her.  i was hoping my body warmth would be enough to keep her comfortable, though by this time i was also trembling.  the blankets on top of us were stiff with cold, and anytime i moved, a breeze of freezing air would chill me to the bone.

i remembered i had brought essential oils, so i motioned to ben where they were and he put them on caleb, speaking calmly and encouragingly to him as he held the garbage bag near his mouth.  a few minutes later, caleb fell into a deep sleep.  ben continued to hold him and hummed songs softly as he waited to make sure caleb was okay.  once he was sure, he slowly laid him down, and climbed back into his sleeping bag.

i hugged myself around the stomach to try to find warmth and closed my eyes to go to sleep, when june woke up again, crying loudly and waking up leah.  she said she was scared, so i told her to climb up on the air mattress, on the other side of me.  she did, bringing all of her belongings with her, and i realized there was not enough room for the three of us and our piles of blankets.  june settled back down, and i tried to find a way to get comfortable, but ended up waking her up again.  this time, she was ticked.  she screamed and yelled something i couldn't understand but was positive it sounded like cursing in toddler language.  she climbed down and tried to walk, immediately falling and becoming even more enraged.  this woke up leah again, who whined loudly, saying she didn't want to sleep by me anymore.

and this was when i had had it.  vomiting children is hard enough on its own.  freezing, and having freezing children is hard enough on its own.  camping with kids is hard enough on its own.  serious sleep deprivation is hard enough on its own.  but combine all of them??  it felt like too much.

delirious with exhaustion, uncontrollably shivering from cold, and extremely frustrated with the situation, at the sound of leah's whines and june's cries (again), i said under my breath, "oh my hellllllllllllllllll,"  and it was from the heart.  then i realized we were surrounded by families from our church who could have heard me, and was embarrassed, but only for a second.  :)

i looked at the clock on my phone.  3:48 am.  i helped leah back to her original sleeping place, while ben picked up june.  i was feeling so done with this night.

then i heard it, ben's soft humming again.  i looked up to see june wrapped in his blanket, as he stood in the tent in only his thermal shirt, pajama pants and socks.  he rocked her patiently, humming several songs.  she quieted down, and he kept rocking.  i looked at my clock once more, 4:13 am.  though i was still shivering, i somehow found a way to finally drift off to sleep....

the morning sun was shining through the red fabric of the tent as i was woken to caleb's frantic pleas.  "mom, i think i'm going to throw up again!"  ben sat up at the same time as i reached for the last garbage bag we had, and held it next to caleb's mouth.  when he was finished, i wiped his face and looked at the time.  6:09 am.

ben scooted closely to me, and looking directly into both of my eyes, said with a serious tone,  "that's IT.  we're outta here."

"oh, THANK YOU!" i replied.  ben turned on the car with the heat blasting, we helped caleb in with the garbage bag, then picked up each of the girls and strapped them into their carseats.  ben told me to stay in the car to help entertain the girls and assist caleb if he needed to be while he began taking down the tent and throwing our belongings into the back of the van with a determination i hadn't seen in a long time.

within 20 minutes, we were ready to go.

we told our friends good-bye, to enjoy the warm breakfast we could smell cooking, and began our 2 1/2 hour drive back home.  within 10 minutes of leaving the campsite, leah announced she needed to go to the bathroom (yet somehow didn't when i had asked her before we left?  anyway.) so we pulled over, took out her travel potty seat and ben helped her.  while of course i took a picture.

i wanted to be in a bad mood--i really did.  it was a long, extremely arduous night.  our optimistic attitudes had definitely been deflated.

instead i forced myself to start searching for the silver lining, because i believe there always is one, in every situation no matter the difficulty.  as i thought through the details of the night, i started forming a mental list:  the vomit was contained--that was a blessing, no one else vomited, we had a car with a working heater to turn on in the morning, there were flushing toilets at the campsite, soon we would be in the comforts of our own home/shower/bed..... but through all of the positive things i could list, one stuck out more significantly to me:

"i want you to know, as awful as that experience was, my love and appreciation for you grew even deeper over the past 24 hours,"  i said aloud to ben.

"oh, really?"  he said with surprise.  "how so?"

"i watched you and was amazed, yet again, at your unending patience--sitting there with caleb and taking care of him while being so close to his vomit, talking to him kindly and keeping him warm.   then with june, doing the same thing when you were so tired, standing and rocking her while she was insane.  your patience never wore out....well, maybe this morning it did.  but in the middle of it all, you were so great at handling it.  i definitely wasn't so fabulous at this, and it made me realize how grateful i am for you.  i have several friends who married men who are not helpful with these things--saying ridiculously that it's the 'woman's job' and checking out.  thank you for not being that kind of a man, or husband, or father."

"well, you're welcome!"  he said with a small laugh.  "sooooooo....does this mean you'll go camping as a family again?"

"are you seriously asking me this right now?  seriously.  so you're delusional then.  NO.  i'm not even entertaining the idea for at least 5-7 years.  i love you, but even love has its limitations,"  i said, and we both laughed.

we happily drove the rest of the way home in the morning sunlight, talking, eating snacks, and realizing that if you search for it, you can always find the silver lining---even after a horrendous overnight camping experience.


Pam said...

Holy nellyballs. That story is not for the faint in heart. I'm proud of you for sticking out til morning! You both rock!

brandon said...

I am finally able to try to catch up on your sweet blog--OH. MY. GOODNESS. What a horrid experience! Brandon is a camper--and I am like you--and we have been camping one time as a family. lol iT was rough. In fact, that tent we ordered when we helped you order yours, ya, it's still in the same box it was SHIPPED in--

Once again, your awesome attitude inspires me. :)